Saturday, 27 February 2010


I've started working through my pile of papers - have got through the Free Presses (and various post stuff) to the last paper I bought, the Saturday Guardian of 2 January. Perhaps I'll carry on not getting the Saturday Guardian and read the Guardian Review online, which is my favourite bit (and of which I've already got a backlog of many months), but I think I've tried that before and not managed to keep up online.

Underneath the Guardian was the programme for Aladdin at the Hackney Empire, which I think was the last thing I went to see, also Saturday 2 January, the matinee. We had seats in the top circle, I had a dark patch on the vision of my right eye of course, so was a bit preoccupied with that and enjoyed it less than I would have otherwise. It's hard to remember specifically but I think we enjoyed it fine but less than in previous years, a diminishing returns thing probably (also one of us was feeling sufficiently under the weather, coldy, that they wanted to leave before the end, but we managed to hang on). Clive Rowe was as ever the stand-out performer, I lost some of the lines of some of the others who I liked last year, not sure if that was because we were further away or if they were faster or quieter. The Hackney Empire pantos were certainly the best of those we have seen (as the reviews indicate, part of the reason they're so good is that they are very traditional, use bits of contemporary songs rather than all originals, including a very good version of something I liked very much which turned out to be Beyonce's Single Ladies, plenty local and topical references, very family friendly and interactive) (although years ago Bethan and I did go to a very sparsely-attended Southwark Playhouse production of Cinderella in their old venue, which we enjoyed a lot. (It looks like Southwark Playhouse are going to be in their temporary venue rather longer than they expected because they haven't started the building on the site of the London Park Hotel which they were going to move into.) A message in the programme indicates that the Hackney Empire is in financial straits, like so many other places, so there will be fewer productions this year.

Some reviews. Telegraph. Guardian. Music OMH. What's On Stage. Time Out (which says it's closing for at least nine months after Aladdin). Evening Standard. Times.